Today is December 12th which for many is just another day but in many Central American, South American, and Mexican American Catholic homes it is a special day, el Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe.
This day is celebrated by many as the day that La Virgen appeared for the fourth time to the native indigenous man of Mexico named Juan Diego on the mountain of Tepeyac. Juan Diego was instructed to collect some roses that grew nearby and present them to the bishop of the church. After Juan Diego collected the roses in his tilma (cloth that native men wore, almost cloak-like) and at the church when he presented them to the bishop there was the image of La Virgen.
This day did not become an official recognized holiday until the mid 1600's when it became the catholic church officially named it as such. This holiday is celebrated at midnight every December 12th at the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City, which is built on the site where La Virgen appeared to Juan Diego back in the early 1500's. Hundreds of people make the pilgrimage to La Basilica to visit the site in hopes that La Virgen will answer their prayers on her day. Many Mexican and Mexican American celebrities go and sing to the image of La Virgen that was on Juan Diego's tilma, and has been well preserved all this time since her appearance.
Many homes will have statues, portraits, and any kind of image to honor La Virgen along with a feast that brings many families together especially during this holiday season and ahead of the posadas. Food is only a portion of the festivities as there is music, usually from live mariachis, and tons of singing that just warm the heart as much as a cup of champurrado. Many see this as a religious holiday, a holiday to celebrate their culture, or to even celebrate their families and the bonds that have tied them together.
The complete Spanish version of this article can be found here.